“Vision 2050”: Živinice's journey from coal to clean energy

“Vision 2050”: Živinice's journey from coal to clean energy A community working together towards a shared goal. Photo: BiH SuTra.

After the successful forums held to define “Vision 2050” in the municipalities of Breza and Ugljevik, the third forum took place in the City of Živinice.

The event was organized as part of the BiH SuTra programme, which is being implemented by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) with the support of Sweden (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency - Sida).

During the opening of the forum, Alija Nurkić, advisor to the Mayor of the City of Živinice, emphasized the immense value of Živinice's participation in the BiH SuTra programme, pointing to Sweden's experience in the process of just transition. "Sweden's extensive experience in just transition serves as a powerful inspiration. I express heartfelt gratitude to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for their invaluable support. Learning from Scandinavian countries, considering Živinice's historical reliance on coal, is pivotal. For us, it's not just a symbolic countdown to midnight; it's already past midnight by five minutes. The BiH SuTra programme has proven to be important support, providing us with new skills and facilitating the exchange of vital experiences. This initiative perfectly aligns with our vision for the future, and we eagerly embrace the knowledge it offers, guiding us toward a sustainable and green tomorrow," said Mr. Nurkić.

The “Vision 2050” initiative aimed to bring together members of the local community to collaboratively shape the future of the City of Živinice. This participatory approach ensured that every citizen had a voice, leaving no one behind.

Transitioning from coal mines to green energy production: A sustainable journey

The coal mine holds significant historical importance for the City of Živinice. However, considering the environmental challenges, Živinice is prepared for a just and gradual transition to renewable energy sources. This aligns with the city's commitment to transforming into a green city in the near future. To achieve this goal, eight solar power plants will soon be constructed on degraded mining areas in the Živinice region.

Visioning team. Photo: BiH SuTra.

"Today's event signifies a positive development for both the local administration and the entire city. My vision for 2050 is to ensure a healthier environment, characterized by high-quality electricity sourced from renewable means. What brings me immense joy, as a representative of the coal mine, is the construction of solar power facilities in our city's rural area. These plants will not only provide jobs for our employees but also enhance their working conditions significantly. The 'Vision 2050' initiative will bring forth substantial projects and extensive employment opportunities for our workforce," stated Suad Šehić, an employee of the brown coal mine "Đurđevik".

One of the initial solar power plants is planned to be constructed near the brown coal mine “Đurđevik”, positioning Živinice as a regional leader in green energy production.

A collaborative approach across governmental, non-governmental and private sectors

Citizens and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, private enterprises, and the academic community, came together at the “Vision 2050” forum. Their collective aim was to generate ideas and tackle the current challenges. Together, they are shaping a sustainable future for Živinice by 2050.

I’m pleased that the 'Vision 2050' forum successfully brought together individuals from various institutions and organizations. However, I believe it would be beneficial to involve representatives from the health sector, official economic representatives, and local community leaders in shaping Živinice's vision. During the programme implementation, it's crucial to establish a unified goal and methodology for envisioning our city in 2050. Subsequently, considering the constraints, we can chart a clear path forward with capable implementers. Živinice is a city in progress, with a developing industry and excellent communication networks. We must ensure that the project we create facilitates the city's growth in the most efficient and qualitative manner. I'd like to emphasize that non-governmental organizations, including environmental organisations, are not adversaries of the local community. We are partners united in our objective: facilitating a successful transition for our city and our entire country. This transition is crucial for protecting the environment, citizens' health, and ensuring a sustainable future," stated Esad Halilovoć, president of the eco association “Za naš ljepši grad” in Živinice.

Defining the future together. Photo: BiH Sutra.

The participants of the 'Vision 2050' forum agreed on the paramount significance of the BiH SuTra programme for the City of Živinice and for all regions abundant in coal.

"I’m honored to be a part of today's team defining 'Vision 2050.' Eko-Sep, the waste management center serving five municipalities—Živinice, Banovići, Kladanj, Srebrenik, and Gračanica—fits the BiH SuTra programme perfectly. Through the establishment of a sanitary landfill and waste management center, we are addressing one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's significant challenges. This initiative not only contributes to solving a local issue but also resonates globally, aligning with international standards for waste disposal. Moreover, it positions us to explore innovative avenues, such as waste separation and resource utilization. With potential support from specific creditors and investors, we aim to convert waste into fuel for a power plant, a crucial step outlined in the urban plan of the City of Živinice. This endeavor holds the promise of addressing another pressing concern—air pollution. While our region once thrived on abundant coal resources, our current reality compels us to prioritize the preservation of our agricultural lands, mountains, and watercourses. We are challenged by the need to mitigate the risk of floods, enhance agricultural development, and promote sustainable practices in animal husbandry, as well as diverse fruit and vegetable cultivation," explained Selmir Šljivić, director of the public company Eko-Sep Ltd. Živinice.

Through active engagement and participatory exercises, attendees contributed to pragmatic dialogues, showcasing the community's hopes for a better future. Some of forum attendees highlighted the importance of children and the environment for the future. "In envisioning Živinice until 2050, my passion centers on advocating for our children's future. I prioritize creating a green city, preserving green spaces around schools and kindergartens. By empowering our children and balancing progress with environmental preservation, Živinice can flourish as a sustainable city, cherished by generations to come," said Mirzeta Abadžić, teacher of the First Primary School from Živinice.

As testament to the City of Živinice's commitment to active citizen participation, an ongoing online survey has been established. This digital platform allows all interested parties, who were unable to attend the forum, to contribute their valuable insights. By harnessing the power of technology, the city ensures that the collective power and experience of its citizens shape the future of the community.

Next steps

Suggestions and comments gathered from both the forum and the online survey will be thoughtfully integrated into the comprehensive "Vision 2050" document. This dynamic compilation of diverse community perspectives will form the bedrock of Živinice's Transition Plan, scheduled for adoption in the late summer of 2024. The plan will outline concrete measures, activities, and funding sources for proposed initiatives, with unwavering support from BiH SuTra to facilitate their realization over the next eighteen months.

As the "Vision 2050" initiative progresses, the Municipality of Banovići anticipates its turn to host the final forum on 1 November 2023. During this event, both interested parties and citizens will be welcomed to actively participate, ensuring that Banovići's future aligns with the aspirations of its people.



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